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December 21, 2014

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Blocked extra point helps Green Valley to 21-20 win

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Cydney Cappello

Dallas Halasz (5) gets a lift from a teammate after blocking the game-tying extra point attempt. The blocked kick lifted the Gators to a 21-20 victory.

Canyon Springs at Green Valley

Canyon Springs cheerleaders excite the crowd at Friday's game against Green Valley. Launch slideshow »

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Payback seemed like it would be an easy feat for Green Valley High Friday night when Kyle Larimer hit paydirt just 11 seconds into the Gators’ game against Canyon Springs.

But that thought quickly vanished as Canyon Springs’ Deshaun Stewart nearly took the ensuing kickoff back for his own score.

Seven plays later Stewart did find the end zone, lifting the Pioneers to a 7-6 lead and giving Green Valley a reminder that this was the same school that eliminated the Gators from the playoffs last year.

While it took roughly 45 minutes for that wake-up call to sink in, Green Valley’s defense finally got going late in the fourth quarter. The Gators stopped Canyon Springs twice inside the 5-yard line in the final five minutes and secured a 21-20 victory when Dallas Halasz blocked the game-tying extra point with three minutes left.

“We sorta got away with one tonight, that’s for sure,” said Green Valley coach Matt Gerber, whose 4-2 squad has won three straight. “We didn’t play our best game. We had a flat week of practice and it showed on the field tonight.”

Not on the opening kickoff.

A pumped up Larimer turned some friendly slaps to the face from teammate Evan Polott into an 80-yard score straight down the center of the field.

But just as quickly, Stewart scampered 66 yards before being taken down deep in Green Valley territory — signaling the start of a competitive showdown.

“We could tell on film they were very dangerous and fast. They’ve been in some close games. They’re just really young and are learning how to win,” said Gerber, whose squad was pasted, 56-39, by the Pioneers last season in the playoffs.

But senior running back Quincy Bagsby wasn’t going to let that same fate happen on his watch.

Bagsby, who gained 132 yards on 21 carries, rumbled up the middle for 13 yards, falling into the end zone with 5:45 left in the first half. His two-point conversion put Green Valley in front 14-7.

“We thought that we could get them to roll over after that first score, but they stayed in there and fought really hard,” Bagsby said.

Canyon Springs, which outgained Green Valley 157 yards to 71 on the ground in the first half, answered with a rushing touchdown of its own to start the second half.

Devin Rimmey, who out-ran the Gators by nearly 50 yards himself, broke outside and went untouched for a 52-yard score.

Bagsby responded with his second score, a 40-yard scamper on a nice cutback run.

But that would be the Gators' final score as Green Valley’s defense was relied upon to do the rest.

Senior Caleb Canady got the Gators out of a big jam when he sacked Pioneer quarterback Mike McWilliams for a 14-yard loss on fourth-and-5 with five minutes left. It was the second time the Gators stopped Canyon Springs on fourth-and-goal that series, after a defensive pass interference call kept the drive alive.

However, Green Valley coughed up the ball right back for the second straight possession, giving McWilliams another shot to tie it.

This time he put the neutralizing touchdown on the board, finding Jonathon James, who beat his defender back to the ball for a 31-yard scoring strike.

But the game-tying extra point didn’t have a chance as the Gators’ defensive front pushed the Pioneers back into the kicker and Halasz skied in to get his hand on the football.

“We were kind of flat all game, but we came up big when we had to and played our hearts out on defense,” Canady said.

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